Good afternoon Secretary Ross and a special welcome to all of the U.S. company representatives on the Trade Winds mission, to our business and chamber partners, and to other distinguished guests.
I would like to extend my deep appreciation to the U.S. Commercial Service team at the Embassy as well as to those visiting from offices in the United States and from U.S. Embassies across this Indo-Pacific region for organizing the Trade Winds Indo-Pacific conference.
This Trade Winds program has brought over 100 U.S. companies to India – reflecting the strong interest in the opportunities available here to U.S. companies. Many of you may be visiting India for the first time, and there is no better way to learn about doing business in this country than by participating in the Trade Winds program.
Importance of U.S.-India Ties
Hosting the Trade Winds Indo-Pacific conference in New Delhi and bringing this high-level trade mission to India is testament to the importance of India in the region and the great value we place on the U.S.-India strategic partnership.
The Indo-Pacific region includes the world’s most populous countries, and its fastest-growing and most dynamic economies. This region is vital to U.S. security and prosperity, and it will drive much of global growth in the years to come.
The U.S. National Security Strategy recognizes India as “a leading power” in the Indo-Pacific. The United States and India, along with other like-minded countries, share a vision for South Asia and the broader Indo-Pacific of a free, open, and rules-based region, which respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries. We want to guarantee freedom of navigation, overflight, and commerce. We want free and fair trade, and the free flow of goods, services, capital, and data. And we want a region with private sector-led growth, transparent commercial practices, and responsible debt-financing.
Partnering Together to Increase U.S.-India Bilateral Trade
The U.S.-India economic and commercial relationship is a key pillar of our Indo-Pacific vision. India is one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, and, despite the fact that there are certain tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade, the Indian market still presents significant opportunities for U.S. exporters.
Bilateral trade has gone from approximately $20 billion in 2001, when I was one of the Under Secretaries of Commerce, to over $140 billion in 2018. That is a seven-fold increase. Last year, U.S. companies exported almost $60 billion in goods and services exports to India – over $25 billion in goods and more than $33 billion in services. In the coming years, India is expected to maintain its high rate of growth, and this will continue to drive demand for U.S. goods and services.
To be sure, given the relative sizes of each of our economies, we should be expanding trade to much greater volumes. While India offers many business opportunities and is moving up on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index, we must also recognize that it remains a challenging market. The regulatory and policy environment is complex and often difficult to navigate. We will continue to work with the Indian government to seek to lower barriers to trade and increase market access.
We sincerely hope that your attendance at this conference will help drive future commercial partnerships between our countries. Having reliable local partners and employees, patience, and a commitment to the market is critical to the success of U.S. companies doing business in India.
India has ambitious economic and social goals. U.S. companies have the quality products and cutting-edge technologies that can assist India in achieving those objectives. Our teams at the Embassy and our four Consulates across India are focused on assisting U.S. companies, and working to identify opportunities for you. We appreciate the time and resources you have committed to join this delegation, and we wish you the very best on this trip. Please remember that we are here to help you.
Welcome to Secretary Ross
It is now my privilege to introduce Secretary Wilbur J. Ross and to welcome him back to India. He is no stranger to doing business here.
Secretary Ross is the former Chairman and Chief Strategy Officer of WL Ross & Co, LLC. He has over 55 years of investment banking and private equity experience. He has restructured over $400 billion of assets in many industry sectors, including airline, banking, electric utilities, oil and gas, marine transportation, and steel. He has been the chairman or lead director of more than 100 companies, operating in more than 20 countries.
In his previous positions, Secretary Ross had also made several investments in India, so he understands firsthand the vast potential that exists in this fast-growing market. In February, during the U.S.-India Commercial Dialogue and CEO Forum meetings, he and Indian Minister of Commerce and Industry Suresh Prabhu moved forward several initiatives to strengthen the U.S.-India economic relationship. Secretary Ross’ presence here today is yet another demonstration of the depth of his and the U.S. government’s commitment to India.
With that, let me welcome U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur J. Ross.